Should I go or should I stay…

Darlin’ you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

Lyrics by the Clash

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(springtime visitor / Julie Cook / 2016)

“The call goes out,
and without any further ado the obedient deed of the one called follows.
The disciple’s answer is not a spoken confession of faith in Jesus.
Instead, it is the obedient deed.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Discipleship

They were busy…
preoccupied with the business of the day.
Counting, looking, figuring, chatting, organizing and arranging.
This day was like any other day…
just like the day before…
And it was safely assumed to be pretty much the same tomorrow.
Life innocently being life.

Friends, customers, coworkers were all coming and going…
each equally busy with the business of the day.
No one sensed that change was in the air…

Was the sun shining or was it overcast…?

It was most likely warm, dry and sunny…
Yet it appears the weather was not to be a factor…
Change was to come with or without the shining sun.

He was accustomed to folks passing by his booth.
Some would stop, having a need of his services, others would pass taking no notice.
Maybe that’s why he looked twice when the stranger approached him.

Was he tired of his business?
Had life dealt him one hand too many?
Or was it something else.
What could it have been about this stranger to have made him simply walk away.

He was a Jew who was accustomed to working with Greek speaking Romans…
yet took the money of the Hebrew Jews.
Why was this stranger, who was also a Jew,
who obviously had no businesses with taxes or a collector of such,
now stopping by his booth?

They had all observed a conversation between the two men.
No exchange of money passed hands…
Just what appeared to be a causal conversation…
Yet what could this stranger have said,
causing Levi to get up, leaving his money and his papers to simply walk away?

He walked away from everything he had known.
His business, his associates, his income, his dealings, his family…
He left it all behind, at his booth, in order to go with this stranger.
“Was that not the Galilean?” one was heard to ask…

We know there was an encounter…as well as a request…

Come…leave…follow…

That simple.
There was no haggling, no convincing, no defending, no arrangements.
Just a simple agreement and in turn, a walking away from the known…
while now entering into the unknown…

It is one thing when asked to simply respond with a causal “Yes. I believe.”
Or even a “yes I can” or “yes I will…”
It takes far greater courage to actually get up, leave, go and do…

The question we must all ask ourselves today–are we willing to get up, leave, go and do?

As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
Mark 2:14

Returning of the keys

“King of England, and you, duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of the kingdom of France… settle your debt to the king of Heaven; return to the Maiden, who is envoy of the king of Heaven, the keys to all the good towns you took and violated in France.”
Joan of Arc

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(Julie Cook / 2014)

At some point in time, all those who have taken what is not theirs to take. . .be it land, kingdoms, homes, livestock, possessions, pleasures, time, identities, lives, esteem. . . will have to answer for their actions. It may be in this life or it may be the in the next, but answer, all must.

We often think of the act of taking what is not ours to take simply as stealing— which is something only the “bad” people do.
This comes in many guises.
Fraud, Identity theft, grand larceny, extortion, bribery, forgery, armed robbery, shoplifting, pickpocketing, corruption, money laundering, scams, etc.

Then there is the more insidious forms of taking such as kidnapping, rape, torture, brainwashing, murder, etc

We take liberties, power, charge, control all in the name of our own sense of righteousness and entitlement. Does that sense of superiority and righteousness make the taking any less wrong?

Is one type of taking more wrong or less wrong than another?
We could certainly argue such.
But is not all sin equal in the sight of God?

During the Hundred year war (which was really longer than 100 years), a young French girl had a vision from God that she was to be the voice to liberate France and her weary people from the clutches of what seemed to be the greedy English. This point could be argued depending on which side you ask— does one Nation have the right to “take” another Nation if they do so with justified good intentions or in many a king’s mind, divine right?

In 1429 this young girl dictated a letter, as she could neither read nor write, to Henry VI, the 7 year old King of England, as well as to those who spoke with authority for this young king, her intentions as instructed by God to bring an end to the fighting, the raping, the pillaging and the sheer madness of the English vying with France for total rule–the issue at stake was her people’s land, buildings, treasures, nationality as well as the actual people themselves—as the English were in France against the will of the French leadership and the people.

But try telling the English that, at the time, France was really not theirs for the seizing. The French were having their own troubles trying to determine who should be their rightful king. The best solution in the mind of the English, was indeed, the English.
What a complicated mess. As is the case when it comes to taking. The lines of yours and mine grow very murky when justification comes into play.

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(Joan’s letter to the English as written my a monk but signed by Joan / March 1429)

One sovereign nation usurping another sovereign nation for possession, as in possession equals power. France struggled within itself and England saw this as their duty to swoop in and simply take charge. Is that not what taking is really all about—taking power and possession and in turn eventually taking charge and control and then being the one on top?

And if it had not been England, it would or could have been Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, and at some point later, France itself— or perhaps as it is today with Nations such as Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq or as some in the world would say, The United States— Nations continually vying for supremacy over what is considered to be the lesser—as in less stable, less than, less prepared, less powerful.

Is taking considered ok if it is a Sovereign Nation doing the taking?
It depends on who you ask and it depends on the reason for taking, as it depends on the level of taking—As such taking always has a justification.

We take what is ours by proximity, by heritage, by birthright, by bullying, by might.
Yet at some point, we must give back, return, let off, recant, repent, own up, acknowledge or pay the price.

Our young heroin, St Joan of Arc, was eventually captured by French forces then handed over to be burned at the stake by the English as a heretic. King Henry VI ruled for 38 years before being murdered. France and England went on to continue waging war with one another up until the Revolutionary war when they continued taking sides and vying for control.

And so it goes. . .
Today it may not be the English and the French, but it is certainly other Nations now who are taking from other Nations. This seems to have been the trend of humankind—taking. And perhaps we may trace the taking back to an apple which was told not to be taken or the life of a brother which should never have been taken—the taking has been going on ever since.

From this tiny window or portal into history, lies the history of humankind.
The vying for power, control, charge and the taking of what we want with and by justification.
Nations justify their taking just as the petty thief justifies his—and sometimes God must say enough is enough, I will send one who must sort this out once and for all. Or maybe sometimes He just shakes His head wondering if we will ever get it right.

Thou shall not covet.
Thous shall not steal.
Thou shall not murder.

Perhaps this is a history lesson of divine Commandment.

At some point we will all have to return that which is not ours. We will be held accountable. The repercussions of the taking are endless if not silent at first then monumental in the long run.

May we be mindful of taking that which is not ours for the taking.
And may we be mindful of our justifications.
May we be mindful of our intentions—are they pure and loving or are they egotistical and self indulgent?

Joan of Arc’s Letter to the English
March 22, 1429

King of England, and you, Duke of Bedford, who call yourself Regent of the kingdom France; you William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk; John, Lord Talbot; and you Thomas, Lord Scales, who call yourselves lieutenants of the said Duke of Bedford, do justly by the King of Heaven; render to the Maid who is sent here of God, the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good cities that you have taken and violated in France. She has come here from God to restore the royal blood. She is all ready to make peace, if you will deal rightly by her, acknowledge the wrong done France, and pay for what you have taken. And all of you, archers, companions of war, nobles and others who are before you; and if this is not done, expect news of the Maid, who will go to see you shortly, to your very great damage. King of England, if you do not do this, I am Chef de Guerre, and in whatever place I shall find your people in France, I will make them go whether they will or not; and if they will not obey I will have them all killed. I am sent here by God, the King of Heaven, each and all, to put you out of all France. And if they will obey I will be merciful. And stand not by your opinion, for you will never hold the kingdom of France through God, King of Heaven, son of Saint Mary; it will be thus ruled by King Charles VII, true heritor; for God , the King of Heaven, wishes it, and this to him is revealed by the Maid, and he will enter Paris in good company. If you will not believe the news from God and the Maid, in whatever place we shall find you, we shall strike in your midst, and will make so great a hurrah [hahay] that for a thousand years there has not been one in France so great, if you do not deal justly. And you may well believe that the King of Heaven will send more strength to the Maid than you will be able to lead in all your assaults against her and her good soldiers. And when the blows fall we shall see who will have the better right from God of Heaven. You, Duke of Bedford, the Maid begs you and requires of you that you work not your own destruction. If you listen to her you will yet be able to come in her company to where the French will do the finest deed that ever was done for Christianity. And reply to this, if you wish to make peace at the city of Orleans; and if thus you do not do, you will shortly remember it to your great sorrow. Written this Tuesday, Holy Week. [March 22, 1429.]